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To Sleep....Yawn

By Belinda

Yes! It is my friend Brucie from England.

My nephew Tim sent me this photo by email today and it reminded me that I had not yet regaled you with the tale of my sleep clinic appointment of a week ago last Sunday.

I know, I know, you thought I would never get around to it! :)

The week before the long procrastinated over--but now much anticipated appointment, approached--I had a couple of calls from the clinic. One was to confirm the appointment and the other to help me prepare.

Never having been to a sleep clinic before I didn't know what to expect so I was pretty excited to hear that I would have a private room and a washroom with shower. And a television.

I didn't know--perhaps they would line us up in a row, I thought, dormitory style, all wired up. A private room sounded like luxury.

I have to say, this lulled me into a completely false impression of what the appointment would be like. It sounded so...spa-like. As though I was booking in for my own private retreat.

I took them at their word. I didn't plan on watching television but I packed two books and I took along my laptop. What was I thinking? I don't know. But if you know nothing about me by now you must at least know this. I overpack wherever I go.

So, I set off for the spa--I mean sleep clinic. At 9.00 pm on Sunday I pulled into the deserted looking parking lot of the office building and was relieved to see another woman, with a sports bag over her shoulder, looking like she was going to the gym. I followed her closely, feeling like a stalker.

We both took the elevator to the third floor of the building. I had been yawning all the way to the sleep clinic, as if to prime the pump. It may have been the power of suggestion, but I was as sleepy as the dormouse in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.

We checked in at the desk, under subdued lighting; and then were invited to wait in the next room until called.

Several  other people were sitting on couches and chairs in the room. The seating was arranged around the focal point of a large, flat screen television set, on the wall over a fireplace where a picture would typically be.

Staring at the screen felt strange. It meant that no one had to talk to anyone else, and so no one did, except for the woman I'd walked in with, who asked what the program was. We had watched a few minutes by then, of a man crashing through undergrowth, while other men on horse back seemed to be tracking something.

It seems that this was a game of hide and seek for grown-ups. Yes, the men on horseback were hunting the man in the bushes. Curiouser and curiouser indeed. :)

I was quite relieved to be summoned to my room.

The room contained everything needed but no frills.  There was a home-made looking, wooden framed, double bed, with brown sheets and blanket. This did not inspire me to want to actually get into it. The word clinic makes me think of crisp, white sheets. "Brown" made me suspect they were hiding something. I decided I would sleep on top of the bedding.

Amin, who would be in charge of me for the night, arrived to show me the ropes. He gave me a clipboard with a couple of forms to complete and then instructed me to go into the bathroom and get ready for bed. I saw at once that there would be no dallying around. He meant business. All thoughts of an evening at the spa evaporated.

One of the forms was a waiver, giving permission for the whole process to be videotaped. I looked up to see a camera in the upper right corner of the room.

I changed into t shirt and yoga pants, brushed my teeth and washed my face and then sat on the edge of the bed and waited for Amin.

He soon appeared and began a 40 minute process of attaching wires to my head, face, legs, chest and arms. The yoga pants were a bit of a challenge for us. I had to roll them up and be attached and then roll them down over the wires. Then came wide straps around my chest and middle, pulled snug.

I laughed at myself for bringing books and my laptop. I felt like Medusa from Greek mythology, with wires instead of snakes all over my head. I was firmly attached and grounded in one place and would not be having any private pyjama party in my room that night.

I begged Amin for one final trip to the washroom. He wound the wires around my neck, in a "necklace," and discretely left for a few minutes. When he came back he asked whether I wanted to read for 10-15 minutes or go to sleep. I opted for "go to sleep."

Amin flung open the bed and said, "Get into bed." There would be no lying on top of the sheets. I obediently got in.

He left the room and over the intercom instructed me to open and close my eyes; look right and left and move my stomach up and down, checking to see if the electrodes were all working. Then he turned out the light and left. It was 10 o'clock by then and I was asleep within minutes.

At 11 o'clock I was awake. Amin was back checking that all the wires were still attached. Like a desperate woman I took advantage of the fact that he was back, to ask if I could be freed up to go to the washroom again. He had said to call and he would hear me, but I had my doubts.

I was soon back in bed and he again turned the lights out. I was just drifting off to sleep again when his voice came over the intercom saying, "Please take of your glasses."

How did he know I had my glasses on? I didn't know I still had them on! I took them off and put them on the bedside table. I went to sleep.

The night passed with a pleasant intervals of sleep broken only by waking pretty much on the hour every hour to check the time.

In the morning I woke up at 6.00 and stayed awake. Amin came in at 6.30 to reverse the process of the night before, painstakingly taking off the wires, one by one.

I brushed my teeth, put in my contact lenses and gathered up my belongings. I went home to shower before work!

In about 3 weeks I will have a follow up appointment with a doctor from the clinic. I'm hoping that they don't say I'm a perfect sleeper and there's no problem. I have problems and I know it. Oh, stop it, stop it!
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